Post Tagged with: "corporations"

Private companies are building their own spy agencies

Private companies are building their own spy agencies

Here’s the description of a talk that happened at Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs:

In today’s world, businesses are facing increasingly complex threats to infrastructure, finances, and information. The government is sometimes unable to share classified information about these threats. As a result, business leaders are creating their own intelligence capabilities within their companies.

This is not about time honored spying by businesses on each other, or niche security firms, but about a completely new use of intelligence by major companies to support their global operations.

The panelists examine the reasons for private sector intelligence: how companies organize to obtain it, and how the government supports them. “Is this a growing trend?” “How do companies collaborate in intelligence?” “How does the government view private intelligence efforts?” “How do private and government intelligence entities relate to one another?” “What does this all mean for the future of intelligence work?”

Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Intelligence in the Private Sector

I’d love to find out more, or find a transcript or video of the talk.

(Thanks Tim Maly)

February 13, 2014 Comments are Disabled
Mindful Cyborgs: The End of the Firm as We Know It

Mindful Cyborgs: The End of the Firm as We Know It

In the latest episode of Mindful Cyborgs Chris Dancy and I journeyed to the belly of the beast at Defrag and interviewed investor Chris DeVore from Founders Co-Op on “industrial entropy”:

KF: Yeah, one of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is that in the 80s there was dystopian sci-fi people would talk about the mega corporation and you would see these big conglomerates but now what seems to actually be taking over or becoming more prevalent or mega networks . . . so, Y Combinator is one example though. Maybe the founders [00:04:06] would be as well but Paul Graham has explicitly said that part of the point of Y Combinator is to be a distributed peer to peer replacement for the traditional company to give the members of it the benefits of being part of a large company without having to be part of the structure of a large company. Do you have any thoughts on that? Do you think that’s actually happening?

CDV: I definitely do and I think this is where the pattern that I think is interesting and there’s a dark [00:04:31] that we’ll get to in a minute is, when everyone is responsible for their own career pathing, like no man is an island, right? We all need different mixes of skills and abilities and kind of promotional states to build an organization that’s capable of things that more than one human can do but this idea of going from hierarchies of organizations with organization design and managers and leadership into networks where you essentially have these flat as Paul says peer-to-peer networks of people that they collaborate in more dynamically as they come together around a project and then they disassembled and reassembled different products. I think that’s fundamentally true about the nature of work today.

Even an enterprise work you might have a project manager but they’re going to hire this sort of coalition of vendors to come together to build a software or to ship certain kind of product and then when that’s over and they then ships over they’re going to disassemble and they’re going to reassemble very organically and I think it’s again very empowering for people who have the skills and ability to navigate and set their own career path and build their own digital identity and kind of how work come to them and be called in to these dynamic networks.

The thing that I worry about is from a skilling standpoint who’s being left behind, who doesn’t have the ability to surf on this very organic dynamic networked economy and how do you make that economy as open or as porous as it can be so that people who are coming out of school right now it used to be they go to a career fair and they get a job. If those jobs don’t exist, what does exist and what are the gateways and points of access for people into the network at this point?

Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 15 – Industrial Entropy and the Turks! The Turks! The Mechanical Turks!

December 8, 2013 0 comments
Meet the Man Who Sold His Fate to Investors at $1 a Share

Meet the Man Who Sold His Fate to Investors at $1 a Share

ipoman-full

On January 26, 2008, a 30-year-old part-time entrepreneur named Mike Merrill decided to sell himself on the open market. He divided himself into 100,000 shares and set an initial public offering price of $1 a share. Each share would earn a potential return on profits he made outside of his day job as a customer service rep at a small Portland, Oregon, software company. Over the next 10 days, 12 of his friends and acquaintances bought 929 shares, and Merrill ended up with a handful of extra cash. He kept the remaining 99.1 percent of himself but promised that his shares would be nonvoting: He’d let his new stockholders decide what he should do with his life.

Full Story: Wired: Meet the Man Who Sold His Fate to Investors at $1 a Share

March 28, 2013 0 comments
The Corporation Who Would Be King

The Corporation Who Would Be King

Some design fiction from Tim Maly, who wrote that thing about corporations being bad AI:

“…if a firm, partnership, company, or corporation owns real property within the municipality, the president, vice president, secretary, or other designee of the entity is eligible to vote in a municipal election…”
-Montana Bill Would Give Corporations The Right To Vote by Ian Millhiser for Thinkprogress

A broader version of this law passes, leading to an explosion of algorithmic corporations owning nominal fractions of land to meet the real property requirement.

Eventually, the corporate hordes overrun their human voter counterparts. A ballot measure is introduced allowing corporations to stand for election. It passes. Now, their dark work begins.

Full Story: Quiet Babylon: The Corporation Who Would be King

March 21, 2013 0 comments
Corporations Are “Bad AI”

Corporations Are “Bad AI”

Tim Maly writes:

One of my favourite recurring tropes of AI speculation/singulatarian deep time thinking is mediations on how an evil AI or similar might destroy us. [...]

And all I can think is: we already have one of those. It is pretty clear to anyone who’s paying attention that 1. a marketplace regime of firms dedicated to maximizing profit has—broadly speaking—added a lot of value to the world 2. there are a lot of important cases where corporate profit maximization causes harm to humans 3. corporations are—broadly speaking—really good at ensuring that their needs are met.

I don’t think that it’s all that far fetched to suggest that maybe they’re getting better and better at ensuring their needs are met. Pretty much the only thing that the left and right in America can agree on is that moneyed influence has corrupted American politics and yet neither side seems able to do much of anything about it.

Full Story: Quiet Babylon: The Singularity Already Happened; We Got Corporations

See also: Yes, There is a Sub-Reddit Dedicated to Preventing SkyNet

March 4, 2013 0 comments
Brand Fanaticism Lights Up Same Part of the Brain as Religion

Brand Fanaticism Lights Up Same Part of the Brain as Religion

Glycon

Curt Hopkins compares the discovery that a company’s logo lights up the same brain regions in fans of that company that religious iconographic lights up in followers of the religion.

Anyway, the public (well, at least the free, male, moneyed public) that took such a hands-on role in shaping the policy of the Republic was displaced by an Imperial government that consolidated power in one man, whose will was carried out by a bureaucracy. When that happened, the formerly most influential elements of the society turned away from public life to “mystery religions”: Mithraism, the worship of Isis and of course Christianity.

In the same way, it feels that we’ve lost something in turn. I’m not sure what it is – religious faith, political will, tribal affiliation? – but I can feel it. With the loss of that thing, people have turned to brands, particularly to tech brands, with their promise of connection, amplification, justification, belonging. The promise of salvation and relevance.

ReadWriteWeb: Thou Shalt Have No Other Jobs Before Me: Geek Fanatacism Lights Up Same Part of the Brain as Religion

Also check out what Douglas Rushkoff has to say about the future of branding in social media.

May 31, 2011 0 comments
Grant Morrison Documentary Out Now – Plus, New Wired Interview

Grant Morrison Documentary Out Now – Plus, New Wired Interview

Talking with Gods

Talking with Gods, the Grant Morrison documentary, is now available on DVD or for download from the Halo Eight Online Store or DVD from Amazon.com.

Update: There’s also a new expanded two disc version. If you already bought the original, you can also buy disk two separately, both on DVD or as a digital download.

Also, Wired has an interview with Morrison on his new Batman, Inc. series which sounds pretty interesting (perhaps he’ll get to incorporate his ideas from his aborted Wildcats series):

Superheroes have always been about becoming whatever we’ve needed them to be at any given time. Lately, we’ve made them like Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates, weaponized supersoldiers working for the military-industrial complex, which then grew into Iron Man, who is a superhero celebrity, an everyone-is-a-star kind of thing. But give it another five years and it could be cosmic seekers again, because of the new drugs coming onto the market. Or it could be something else entirely. They’ll take the form of whatever our dreams or ideals happen to be. [...]

Most corporations seem pretty demonic. Corporations as entities are strange things. Because no one person is really in charge, we’ve conjured some predatory, ravenous entities. But Batman, Inc. is an attempt to reimagine what a good corporation can be. It’s not the first time this has happened in comics: Joe Casey tried to imagine the same thing with Wildcats. But this will be Bruce Wayne’s attempt, and I think it’s going to be quite progressive.

Wired: Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc. Births Comics’ First Zen Billionaire

I think a case could be made that Adrian Veidt (himself based on Tibetan Buddhist Peter Cannon) as the first comics’ first “zen” (used loosely) billionaire.

November 4, 2010 0 comments
Douglas Rushkoff Interviews Harvey Pekar – in Comic Form

Douglas Rushkoff Interviews Harvey Pekar – in Comic Form

Pekar project with Douglas Rushkoff

Pekar Project: PEKAR & RUSHKOFF KIBBITZIN’ HOW LIFE GOT INCORPORATED

(via Dangerous Minds)

July 7, 2010 0 comments
It’s Official: Google Can Sell Power Like a Utility

It’s Official: Google Can Sell Power Like a Utility

Google Utility

The Federal Regulatory Energy Commission has granted Google Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of the search giant, the right to behave like a utility.

The order grants Google Energy the power to sell energy, capacity and services at market rates.

Why does Google want to do this? Right now, the company rakes in billions of dollars from ads and it doesn’t have to have extensive support desks and remote repair teams — i.e., the kind of people power providers must have on staff — in order to do it. Selling power is a much more hands-on business.

Google has said it wants to go carbon neutral. With the FERC order, it can now effectively erect as many solar panels and install as many fuel cells as it likes without worrying about having purchased too much capacity; the company can now sell off the extra power it generates.

GreenTechMedia: It’s Official: Google Can Sell Power Like a Utility

See also:

Google’s Addiction to Cheap Power

February 19, 2010 0 comments
Glenn Greenwald: What the Supreme Court got right

Glenn Greenwald: What the Supreme Court got right

supreme court

There’s been much bathos since yesterday’s Supreme Court decision regarding restrictions on political speech. Greenwald is the voice of reason here:

The Supreme Court yesterday, in a 5-4 decision, declared unconstitutional (on First Amendment grounds) campaign finance regulations which restrict the ability of corporations and unions to use funds from their general treasury for “electioneering” purposes. The case, Citizens United v. FEC, presents some very difficult free speech questions, and I’m deeply ambivalent about the court’s ruling. There are several dubious aspects of the majority’s opinion (principally its decision to invalidate the entire campaign finance scheme rather than exercising “judicial restraint” through a narrower holding). Beyond that, I believe that corporate influence over our political process is easily one of the top sicknesses afflicting our political culture. But there are also very real First Amendment interests implicated by laws which bar entities from spending money to express political viewpoints. [...]

All of the hand-wringing sounds to me like someone expressing serious worry that a new law in North Korea will make the country more tyrannical. There’s not much room for our corporatist political system to get more corporatist. Does anyone believe that the ability of corporations to influence our political process was meaningfully limited before yesterday’s issuance of this ruling?

Glenn Greenwald: What the Supreme Court got right

Read the whole thing, including the updates at the end.

January 23, 2010 0 comments